Is there correction under grace? And if yes, how does God discipline believers under the new covenant?
[This answer has been excerpted from Grace Revolution, chapter 13, Having a Heart for Jesus, and the sermon, Godly Discipline and Correction Brings Promotion, preached on July 22, 2018.]
Some people have the erroneous idea that when you are under grace, there is no correction and every and anything goes. This cannot be further from the truth.
Is there correction under grace? Just ask any of my pastors and they will tell you, “Of course there is!” But the correction is always saturated with love, grace, and wisdom. Is there discipline under grace? Of course there is! All effective discipline and correction is communicated with an abundance of grace, patience, and love.
There are those who argue that if we are indeed always highly favored by the Lord, then there is no need for Him to correct and to discipline us. My dear friend, let me help you understand it from the perspective of a parent. When my kids do something wrong, Wendy and I certainly correct and discipline them. But in our hearts they are always loved and favored by us even when they have failed and even while being corrected by us.
Why? Simply because they are our children! No matter how they perform, we will always love them and they will always be favored in our hearts. How highly favored they are to us is a matter of their identity, not their performance. It is based on who they are and whose they are, not what they have or have not done.
In the same way, our state of being loved and favored by our Father in heaven is a result of our identity as the sons and daughters of God through the finished work of Jesus Christ. We can call God our Father and God can call us His children because of what Jesus has done on the cross on our behalf!
As we grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ, He will correct, discipline, and guide us. But it is vital for you to know that our Lord will never correct us with tragic accidents, sicknesses, and diseases (see Does God chasten His children with sicknesses, accidents, and calamities?). The Bible says, “For the Lord corrects those he loves, just as a father corrects a child in whom he delights” (Prov. 3:12 NLT). In other words, the Lord corrects those whom He highly favors, just as an earthly father would correct a child he loves.
Would a father correct a child in whom he delights by inflicting pain and suffering on that child? Of course not! In the same way, our heavenly Father corrects us not by inflicting pain and suffering but with His Word (see 2 Tim. 3:16). Correction may come through the preaching of His Word, or through godly leaders whom He surrounds you with in a local church, leaders who love you and who care enough to speak into your life.
The truth is, when people know that their heavenly Father loves them, they can receive correction and discipline with gratitude and humility. That is why it is so important for every child of God to experience the grace revolution—to become established in His perfect love and anchored in His unconditional grace toward them. Grace imparts to us the power to perform and to live a life above defeat. Grace is the key to holiness.